JWF attended the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) annual meeting in Geneva on July 4, 2013, working alongside ambassadors, ministers, and other senior officials. The Foundation discussed educational institutions inspired by JWF’s Honorary President Fethullah Gulen and their contributions to sustainable development, education, pluralism, and peace building.
A civil movement was born around Mr. Gulen’s belief that the most effective way to serve humanity is through education. The private institutions founded by the initiatives of this movement have expanded into 140 countries — predominantly developing countries — in 20 years.
Huseyin Hurmali, JWF’s Abant Platform Secretary General
The potential contributions of science, culture, and innovations to UN Millennium Development Goals were discussed at the meeting. JWF’s Abant Platform Secretary General, Huseyin Hurmali, spoke on behalf of the Foundation, asserting that access to free and equal education is vital to all societies. Thus, great development goals can only be achieved with the contributions of educated individuals from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds who are determined to build a prosperous future for everyone.
Hurmali said, “I would like introduce you to an innovative education model pioneered by the efforts of educators and entrepreneurs who are inspired by the Turkish intellectual Fethullah Gulen. A civil movement was born around Mr. Gulen’s belief that the most effective way to serve humanity is education. The private institutions founded by the initiatives of this movement have expanded into 140 countries — predominantly developing countries — in 20 years.”
Noting that this education model is remarkable not only due to the significance it attaches to science, math, and technology, but also its function of raising students as socially and environmentally responsible world citizens, Hurmali stated, “This model aims, above all, to contribute to the peaceful coexistence of diverse cultures. These schools function as ‘peace islands’ in conflict-ridden zones while they enhance pluralism and dialogue in peaceful environments.”
Hurmali explained that the schools of this model are based on secular principles and operate in line with their host countries’ educational curricula. “These schools admitting students from highly diverse cultures recognize their students’ ethnic, religious, and cultural identities and raise them as citizens of the future world. They provide full access to scientific and technological innovation supplies. Besides, the students at these schools are educated in a way that enables them to improve themselves in literature, arts, foreign languages, and various social skills in order to be leaders of sustainable development in their countries and the world.”
As one example, Hurmali cited JWF’s foundation of three schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war in 1995. These schools embraced Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian students under the same roof while the war persisted. Through the quality education they offered, the schools in question contributed to the formation of human capital, which a war-torn country is in extreme need of for sustainable development. Currently, a total of ten educational institutions — five high schools, four primary schools, and a university — are operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
To conclude his statement, Hurmali said, “We propose that this innovative and secular education model be utilized by the UN to reach its Millennium Development Goals in science and technology, and be recognized as a successful example of contributing to world peace.”